foxysquidalso: (klavier)
[personal profile] foxysquidalso
It's the fourth and final part at last (sorry it took so long, I am officially the slowest ever). I hope it turned out okay!

Title: Moment to Moment, Part 4 (of 4)
Characters/Pairings: Apollo/Klavier (overall), Kristoph, Phoenix, Trucy
Word count:
Rating: PG13
Warnings: References to murder, death; some blood and violence; spoilers for Apollo Justice.
Summary: The captive Kristoph Gavin made his escape--then vanished. Months have passed. His disappearance has had quite an effect on the people he knows, but what will happen when he returns?
Notes: Set in the year following Turnabout Succession.



It all happened in a moment. Just like that. He'd been about to die, and then everything changed, because of the simple chance of Bullets the cat having been lurking atop the cabinet. What happened next was so quick, he might have blinked if he'd missed it, and if he'd blinked, things would have turned out so differently, and likely so much worse.

Bullets, frightened and confused, landed on Kristoph's head, and he must have sunk his claws into Kristoph's scalp, or at least startled him, because Kristoph lost his cool, his face contorting, and reached up to knock the cat from its perch This apparently caused Bullets to dig in tighter, because Kristoph let out a strangled cry and shook his head to dislodge the animal.

It was in that moment that he accidentally dropped the gun. It fell to the floor next to Klavier's head with a clatter, and fortunately did not go off.

Apollo didn't stop to think. He lunged forward just as Bullets finally leapt down from Kristoph's head, and before he knew what was happening, he had the gun in his hand, and Kristoph didn't. He was aiming the gun at Kristoph, and Kristoph was unarmed.

Kristoph regained his composure, his expression cooling until it was perfectly cold once more. The only sign that the tables had turned was the single drop of blood that rolled down from Kristoph's hair, drawing a single red line down one side of his forehead. Bullets must have dug his claws in deep. Apollo wasn't sure where Bullets had gone. Probably he'd run to Trucy's room, his favorite place to nap. Apollo wasn't about to look away from Kristoph for the amount of time it would take to ascertain where the cat was. He wasn't going to look away from Kristoph for any reason. Kristoph had the same idea, and their gazes locked.

Apollo had never held a gun on someone before, and he had never envisioned himself doing so. It was a new and unpleasant experience. It wasn't as if he'd never been in a fight before, but those had been mere childhood scuffles. This was dangerous, the potential for violence stark and inescapable. The gun felt large and awkward in his hand, as if it didn't belong there. He didn't like having it there, but he wasn't about to put it down. Not with Kristoph looking at him like that.

The other man's expression was so cold it possessed an almost inhuman blankness, like that of a living creature frozen to the point that all life had left it. "Apollo," he said, his voice as chilled as the look in his eyes.

Apollo didn't know what to say. He couldn't look away from Kristoph for a second, but he was highly conscious of Klavier lying on the ground between them, injured and possibly in need of immediate medical attention. Head injuries didn't have to involve blood to be dangerous. He could be seriously hurt, even dying. There was no way to tell.

"I know you won't use that gun," said Kristoph. "You're not the violent type, are you?"

It was true. He wasn't. He didn't reply, because he couldn't find the words to contradict him with. Yet as he stood there, in that darkened kitchen, lit only by the light from the next room, he began to feel angry. It was Kristoph who'd been responsible for interrupting, if not ruining, the lives of almost everyone he knew, himself included. It was Kristoph who'd made Klavier so neurotic that he could no longer work, had made Vera so nervous she could barely bring herself to leave the house. It was Kristoph who threatened the lives of Phoenix and Trucy and most of the people he knew. Kristoph wanted to kill him, too. He wouldn't think twice about it. He wouldn't regret it.

It was hard to look at Kristoph and see nothing of the person he'd once trusted and respected. That illusion was completely gone. There was nothing left but a cold, monstrous man with a faint smile, looking him over, so sure of himself. Standing there, waiting. To see what Apollo would do next. To make his own move.

The only sound Apollo could hear in the silence between them was the rasping of his own breath in his throat. His mouth was so dry, his stomach in a knot. There was a faint, acid taste at the back of his mouth, and he knew that he was terrified, but he couldn't afford to falter. He kept his hand on the gun, and he took the safety off.

Through all this, Klavier didn't stir, and Apollo couldn't spare an instant to glance down at him to see if he was still breathing. He wasn't going to underestimate Kristoph. He kept his hand on the gun and his gaze on Kristoph, though his hand was shaking slightly. He put up his other hand to steady it, holding the gun in both. He wished he could see Klavier right now, not like he was, lying on the floor, but awake and alive and smiling at him as he'd been earlier that day. Laughing and teasing him and then calling him a hero. He wanted him to be okay, so he could see him again like that. Happy. Without having to worry about Kristoph.

"Put the gun down, Apollo," said Kristoph. "I can see it trembling in your hand. You don't wish to hold it. Let it go. You've caught me now. Let's call the police. I surrender to you."

Apollo didn't move. He could easily have shifted to a one handed grip on the gun and taken his phone from his pocket. But he could feel Kristoph's gaze on him, an almost tangible pressure, and he was sure that if he faltered, Kristoph would do something. Apollo had never actually seen him perform an act of violence, but Apollo knew he'd struck Zak Gramarye so quickly that he hadn't had a chance to react or fight back. He must be fast and sure and strong. He was much taller than Apollo, looming over him now, only a couple steps away from him. Apollo didn't want to give him any chances.

"Apollo," said Kristoph. He kept saying his name, and every time it made Apollo feel colder. Every time, Apollo felt more like lowering the gun. He knew he shouldn't, but there was a time, once, when he'd done everything Kristoph had asked him to. Without hesitation. Mr. Gavin had helped him while he'd been in college. He'd mentored him, given him a job. Why had he done all that, when he hadn't cared for Apollo at all? Apollo wasn't sure if he wanted to know the answer to that question. He thought it would likely be an answer he wouldn't like. Some things were better left unknown.

"Mr. Gavin," he said. A part of him wanted Kristoph to be the person he'd once believed he was. The person he should have been. A part of him almost believed that he might still take a step back, say that he was sorry, feel some remorse.

Instead, Kristoph, as if sensing his weakness, took a step forward.

Apollo knew that if he didn't do something, Kristoph was going to take another step soon. He was going to close the distance between them, and something terrible would happen. His heart was beating fast, and suddenly it became clear to him: how easy it would be, now, to shoot him, to kill him. He was an escaped, convicted criminal. Everyone knew he was dangerous. All Apollo had to do was aim and fire. Klavier, Vera, Phoenix, Trucy, and everyone else Kristoph endangered--they would all be free. He could set them free that easily. In that moment, with a strong, almost manic intensity, Apollo told himself that he should do it. That way, there would be no danger that Kristoph would ever do something like this again.

Klavier would be safe. Apollo would be a hero.

He had a moment to decide.

It only took a moment. He aimed and fired.

***


He was in shock. Later, he was never sure if he passed out or if his mind simply became a blank for a short time, during which, even though he was awake, he was hardly aware of what he was experiencing. He remembered the sound of the gun, much louder than he'd thought it would be, so loud it deafened him. His heart beat so hard it hurt, and he felt sick to his stomach.

The first thing he became definitely, clearly aware of was a clown. A clown, with full face makeup, gazing down at him and saying, in a weirdly familiar voice, "Apollo, are you all right?" In response, Apollo simply stared. What could he say? It was one of the oddest things that had ever happened to him. He'd shot Kristoph, and suddenly a clown had appeared, like some kind of colorful, obnoxious guardian angel.

What was a clown doing here? Dimly, he remembered the parade from earlier that night, the clown that had honked at him. Was this that same clown? It looked like it. But why? Was he losing his mind? He couldn't think of any other rational explanation for the fact that he was lying in the kitchen with a clown leaning over him.

"Klavier," Apollo said weakly, realizing belatedly that he was lying on the ground.

"Klavier's fine," said the clown. "I checked his vitals, and the ambulance will be here soon."

"But, what--Kristoph!" What had happened? Had he gotten away? It was then that Apollo became aware of another voice, not the clown's, in the background. It was only a soft sobbing at first, but as he continued to talk to the clown, it rose and intensified until it was a sharp, almost keening wail. Apollo struggled to sit up, which wasn't difficult, as he was dazed but unhurt, and the clown leaned back to let him move. His first thought that it might be Klavier, upset or in pain, but when he turned, it was to find Kristoph curled up next to the cabinets, sobbing. Alarmingly, there was blood all over the floor and his legs.

Apollo turned back to the clown, only to discover that it had taken off its nose and started to wipe its makeup away. "Mr. Wright?" Now that he was thinking more clearly, Apollo could see that it was none other than his boss, dressed like a clown. What a huge change. "Phoenix--what happened?"

In response, Phoenix grinned, his face caked with smeared clown makeup but otherwise more or less recognizable, especially as he pulled off his wig, revealing some pressed-flat hair that halfheartedly sprang up into its usual spikes as it was set free. "You shot Kristoph in the knee," said Phoenix cheerfully.

"I did?" asked Apollo, before amending, "I did." He remembered lowering the muzzle of the gun and aiming at Kristoph's kneecap just before firing the gun. He hadn't been able to shoot him somewhere more vital.

"I heard the shot and got here as fast as I could," said Phoenix, seeming entirely too pleased about this for Apollo's taste. "You were standing there with the gun, and Kristoph was kneeling there screaming. I said, 'Apollo, give me the gun', and then you did, and then you fell down."

Apollo frowned. "That part, I don't remember."

At this, as if to remind him, Kristoph started screaming again.

Phoenix sighed. "I tried to go over there and stop his bleeding, but he tried to bite me, so I gave up." Apollo could see why he wouldn't make the effort again. All Kristoph's cold composure had collapsed into madness once again. He was speaking, but Apollo couldn't make out any of what he was saying, except for a few fragments of threats and insults. "I think you should move Klavier out of here," said Phoenix. "I'll deal with Kristoph until the cops get here. It won't be long."

It could have been the adrenaline coursing through his veins, but he didn't have too much trouble moving Klavier out of the kitchen and into the next room as carefully as he could. From a strictly medical standpoint, maybe they should have waited for the ambulance and allowed the medics move him, but Apollo agreed that it was important to get him as far from Kristoph as possible. He didn't seem to be too badly injured. He started to wake up as Apollo positioned him on the couch, and Apollo was glad Mr. Wright had thought to move him. He wouldn't have wanted Klavier's first sight to be of his brother bleeding all over the floor.

When Klavier's eyes opened, he gave a start. "Kris--" He broke off as his eyes focused. He stared. "Apollo?"

"Yes, it's me. You're okay."

"But Kristoph! He was--"

"It's all right. Mr. Wright's here now, and the police will be here soon." Apollo smiled, relieved. Klavier was alive, awake, and talking to him. "Everything's going to be okay."

Klavier tried to sit up, as if he wanted to see for himself what had. "But how--"

Mr. Wright, only partly de-clowned, answered this question from his post guarding over Kristoph. "Apollo shot him in the knee."

Apollo thought he sounded, yet again, entirely too proud and happy about that. He'd only shot him because he'd had to do something. He didn't like thinking about it. He remembered how close he'd come to purposely shooting Kristoph somewhere that would have been much more definitely fatal.

Klavier partly succeeded in sitting up, and managed to get a look into the next room. "Apollo, why is there a clown in the kitchen?"

"That's Mr. Wright," Apollo sighed.

"He's passed out!" Phoenix announced, taking his job of overlooking Kristoph very seriously, understandably.

"Thanks, Mr. Wright," said Apollo tiredly.

Suddenly, Klavier started to laugh. "You--you shot him in the knee," he said. "You shot him." His laughter was high and a little brittle, and Apollo looked at him worriedly. "He was going to--I don't know what he was going to do, but he didn't, because you shot him."

"Klavier, what's wrong...?"

Phoenix spoke up again. "He's hysterical."

"He must be," said Apollo, and promptly burst into tears.

"So are you," said Phoenix, his tone growing gentler as Klavier continued to laugh and Apollo cried, the two of them expressing the same thing differently as the police cars and ambulance pulled up in front of the office, their sirens audible. "But it's all right," Phoenix said softly. "It's over now."

It was Phoenix who walked with Apollo to the ambulance as the EMTs pushed Klavier in a stretcher. "You're in shock," Phoenix said. "You should go with him. I'm sure he could use a friend." Apollo nodded, then paused to watch the police ambulance drive away. He let out a deep breath, watching as it carried Kristoph farther away from them, moment by moment.

"Apollo." Klavier smiled up at him weakly from the stretcher as Apollo sat down beside him in the ambulance.

"You're going to be okay."

"I know I am. Thanks to you." Klavier shifted, raising an arm. Apollo glanced nervously toward the EMTs to make sure this was all right, but they didn't seem to think anything was wrong. Klavier held out his hand to Apollo. When Apollo hesitated, he prompted, "Take that," so Apollo did. Klavier squeezed his hand, tightly. "I want to tell you something."

"What?"

"It's a secret." Klavier glanced toward the others with them as if to say he didn't want them to overhear. "So lean in closer."

Apollo wasn't about to refuse a request from someone in shock or hysterical or possibly both, so he leaned in as requested. As he did so, Klavier leaned up, pressing his lips to Apollo's. Apollo's eyes widened, but he didn't pull away. It was Klavier who broke the kiss, to tell his secret. "You are my hero." And then he kissed him again. Apollo didn't even look to see if they were being stared at, or even care about that at all. For once, he was lost in the moment.

***


Epilogue.

It wasn't until the next day that Apollo returned to the scene of the crime, as it were. Outside, he paused to frown at Phoenix's clown bike, which was propped up by the door. It had been done up to look like a lion, complete with a furry mane and tail.

"Hey, Apollo, how's it going?" Phoenix stepped through the door with a wave. He was no longer wearing clown makeup or clown clothes. No, it was back to the hoodie and beanie for him, not that he looked that much different overall.

"I'm okay." He smiled. "Thanks for everything last night."

"Not a problem. Thank you."

"Thank me? For what?" Apollo didn't feel he merited thanking. He'd done what he had to do, at every turn, no more than that.

"For what you did. For Klavier and everyone. You're a real hero, Justice."

Apollo blushed and shook his head. "I was just doing what I had to do." He wasn't used to thinking of himself as a hero. He needed to change the subject somehow, and as he tried to think of something, Apollo realized that he never had asked what was up with all the circus stuff. "Why were you in the parade, anyway?"

"Oh, an old friend of mine was in town. He's with the Big Berry Circus. We hadn't seen each other in a while, and he really wanted me to meet up with him and ride in the parade. So that's what I did. It was a lot of fun. The end point was at People Park, and I'd just left there and was on my way home when I heard a shot."

That did wrap up some loose ends and explain some questions Apollo had had, such as where his bike had gone, where Mr. Wright had gone, and how he'd gotten to the scene so fast. "You know a lot of weird people," Apollo observed.

"So do you, Justice."

Apollo couldn't even deny this. "That's true." He glanced at the bike again and again felt a frown tug at the corners of his lips. Suddenly, he realized why the sight of the lion-bike bothered him so. "That's--is that my bike, Mr. Wright?"

"Sure is. You like it?"

"Then--you stole my bike?"

Phoenix took a moment to think about this before answering. "No, I wouldn't say I stole it. That's a little harsh. More like I borrowed it. I needed a bike to ride in the parade."

"You stole it."

Phoenix seemed not at all worried by this accusation. "But I know you."

"Knowing someone doesn't mean you're unable to steal from them," Apollo protested. If that were the case, then people could just take whatever they wanted from whoever they knew at any time. Which would have left Apollo with no possessions, most likely.

"I know, Apollo," said Phoenix patiently. "Last I checked, I'm a lawyer, too."

Apollo didn't even know why he felt compelled to object to this statement. "No you aren't. Not technically."

"Yes, I am."

"But--" Apollo broke off, as Phoenix unzipped his hoodie a short way, revealing the t-shirt beneath, to which was affixed a shiny golden defense attorney's button. Apollo blinked. "Wait. You got your badge back?"

"That's right."

What? He really had gotten his badge back and hadn't told anyone? That was infuriating, even for Phoenix. "But when? Why didn't you tell me?"

Phoenix shrugged. "I was waiting until the time was right. Now it is."

Apollo sighed. Deeply. Somewhere, in someone's mind, he was sure, that made some sense. "Why is now the right time?" he asked, figuring he might as well, because he wanted to know, and Phoenix probably wouldn't tell him if he didn't ask.

"Because you're going on vacation, and we'll need a lawyer around to take any cases that come up while you're gone."

"There probably won't be any--" Apollo broke off in the midst of his negative predictions about business. "Wait, I am?"

"That's right. You deserve it. I just talked to Gavin on the phone, and we worked it out."

"Wait--" Apollo didn't even have a half-formulated negative opinion left in his head. "You did what?"

"We sorted out the vacation you two are going on. So--you've got time off, and all your cases will be covered, and you have absolutely nothing to worry about." Mr. Wright smiled, zipped his hoodie back up, then put his hands in his pockets.

"Wait a second," said Apollo. "You stole my bike."

"We had established that I took the bike, but that it wasn't 'stolen', per se."

"That means that--" If Mr. Wright hadn't stolen the bike--and Apollo was going to think of it as stolen... Everything might have turned out much, much differently. Then had it been all thanks to him that things had turned out as they had? Should he say something about it?

"That means what, Apollo?" Mr. Wright asked innocently.

"Never mind," Apollo said. "I'm on vacation." Maybe he'd tell him when the time was right.
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